01/11/2012 10:50 am ET Updated Aug 31, 2012

Roux: What It Is And How To Make It

Roux is such a versatile base for so many culinary creations, including sauces, gravies, soups and stews. You've probably used it many times before but not even know it, like in macaroni and cheese. It's basically a mixture of flour and fat, cooked together. Roux functions as a thickening or flavoring agent, depending on the type of roux used.

The French use roux for bechamel and veloute sauces, which are made with white roux (cooked for a brief time). Cajun and Creole cuisine uses brown and dark brown roux (cooked for a long time) in the famous dish of gumbo.

Watch the video above to learn more about roux.

To make a roux, you'll need a 1:1 ratio of fat to flour. You can use butter, clarified butter (best for dark roux), oil or fat (best for dark roux). Start by melting the butter or heating the oil. Then whisk in the flour. To get the kind of roux you're looking for, see the chart below.

White roux: Takes anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes to make. Not much flavor. Used mainly for thickening sauces and soups.

Blond roux: Takes up to 20 minutes to make. Nutty color and flavor. Used for thickening sauces, soups and stews.

Brown roux: Takes about 35 minutes to make. Peanut butter color and nutty flavor. It has a thin consistency, best for flavoring soups and stews.

Dark brown roux: Takes about 45 minutes to make. Chocolate color and flavor. It has the thinnest consistency, best for flavoring soups and stews.


Classic Gravy

Macaroni and Many Cheeses

Mushroom and Goat Cheese Bechamel Pizzas

Chicken and Okra Gumbo

What recipes do you make with roux? Leave a comment below.